Dutch embassy opens in Côte d’Ivoire

Today, foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra opened a new Dutch embassy in Côte d’Ivoire. The opening of the embassy in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s biggest city, means that for the first time in 12 years, the Netherlands once again has a permanent diplomatic mission in the West African country, after years of internal conflict had made it unsafe.

‘It’s good that we once again have an embassy in Côte d’Ivoire,’ the minister said. ‘Côte d’Ivoire is an important partner in areas like migration, employment and security – issues that are extremely important to the Netherlands.’ According to Mr Zijlstra, it’s especially good news for the Dutch business community. Côte d’Ivoire has the biggest economy in French-speaking West-Africa. ‘The economy is picking up again fast, and that means plenty of opportunities for Dutch businesses. Ambassador Robert van den Dool and his team can use their local network to help businesses make full use of this potential,’ the minister added.

This is the first embassy that Halbe Zijlstra has opened. Early next year, the Netherlands will also be opening an embassy office in Niamey, the capital of Niger. The decision to set up these two representations was made by the previous government. The recent coalition agreement contains a pledge to spend €40 million extra in the next few years to strengthen the mission network, marking an end to a period of major cuts. The government will announce the exact nature of these investments next year.

The opening of the Abidjan embassy coincides with the AU-EU Summit. Mr Zijlstra is in Abidjan with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, to discuss with other EU member states and African countries the problems and opportunities shared by Africa and Europe.